GOP to repeal and replace anti-earmark promise

The Washington media is reporting on the House GOP’s plan to repeal and replace their promise to ban congressional earmarks. Broken promises by Washington politicians aren’t really news, but the brazenness of reversing their position on earmarks just five weeks after the election grabs attention, as does the fact that the rebellion against the earmark ban is being led by Tea Party favorites.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and others are considering “exemptions” to the earmark ban for pet “transportation projects” and are devising strategies to direct government spending to their pet projects by writing letters and making phone calls to government agencies — also known as “lettermarking” and “phonemarking” — to influence the decisionmaking process. In addition to this movement to return to the era of the Bridge to Nowhere, a notorious Republican-sponsored “transportation” earmark, congressional Republicans are planning to fool the American people by referring to earmarks as “member-directed spending.”

“This isn’t trying to be too cute by half of what is an earmark and what isn’t,” Bachmann reportedly told the media. Oh, really?

I don’t have a problem with earmarks. They represent a miniscule amount of money and since they are paid for do not add to the deficit or the debt. But Republicans campaigned against earmarks. They derided them as wasteful. And now, as they plot to hold onto their new power, they are retreating on their promise to ban earmarks because they think they can use them to their political benefit.

The spending bug is spreading among the GOP faster than a stomach bug through a kindergarten. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) thinks his party has overreached on earmarks. Bachmann wants to allow earmarking for any project that has been approved by a local government. House appropriators think that earmarking is “one of the reasons we are here.” I guess we now know why no mention of earmarks was included in the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” campaign manifesto.

It’s very hard to take congressional Republicans seriously when it comes to spending. Their record of hypocrisy is striking. The anti-earmark Tea Party Caucus secured more than $1 billion in earmarks in 2010. Under Republican control of Congress, earmarks exploded from 2,000 projects in 1994 (last year of Democratic control) to about 14,000 projects in 2005 — the last year of Republican control of Congress. Check out this pork project chart prepared by the Heritage Foundation that chronicles the explosion of earmarks under Republicans in Congress.

And what of the Tea Party faction of the new Republican majority as this flip-flop on earmarks is emerging? Well, they apparently are too busy hiring their government workers and filling out the forms for their government healthcare to worry about earmarks right now.

The House GOP, repealing their promises and replacing their integrity.

David Di Martino is CEO of Blue Line Strategic Communications Inc. The views expressed in this blog are his and do not necessarily represent Blue Line’s. Follow David: @bluelinedd